June 8, 2011

When Poison Ivy Is an Act of Love

A week ago Tuesday, the kids and I were at my redhead's second-to-last T-ball game. It was screaming hot out. And I mean screaming. Heat index over 100, even after 5:00 p.m. The kind of hot where you sweat just stepping outside.

My redhead is a pro. He ran up to join his team, played all of his three innings, and barely broke a sweat.

My diva doesn't notice heat much either. She found a friend with a soccer ball and spent the better part of an hour running the ball across the field. That girl lives for soccer.

Peabo started well. He headed off to look for a friend of his, and, not finding him, spent some time digging for frogs in the woodsy brush behind the backstop. Found one, too. Little baby frog, and if I'd had my camera I'd have gotten a picture for you.

And then the heat hit him like a Mack truck. He spent the next 30 minutes in a ball on my lap, grabbing my arms and holding on for dear life while he fought waves of heat exhaustion and nausea. We're used to this: it happens every year during the first few summer heatwaves. I fed him water in slow sips, and toward the end convinced him to lie down on the blanket beside me while I poured cold water over his head and neck.

We all went home. He got better as soon as he hit the air conditioning and ate a big old dinner, despite his telling me as often as I'd listen that he was too sick and would not eat a thing. Homemade macaroni and cheese, that's the secret. It's like appetite magic.

Then, two days later, he started to itch.

Three days later he was covered in a rash. A red, blotchy, itchy, uncomfortable kind of rash. So I rushed him to urgent care. Poison ivy. A very bad case. Bad enough that when they said, "Hey, kid, we can make the itching stop if we give you a horribly painful shot of prednisone in your thigh," he said "YESDOITDOITRIGHTNOW!"

So. He had poison ivy.

And that night, I realized, I did too. First in a handprint shape on my upper left arm. Then another handprint on the right. Followed by another. And another.

By this morning, both upper arms were covered in an oozy, reddened rash that was turning stomachs everywhere. The redhead told me quite plainly that I'd have to wear long sleeves or he wouldn't let me hug him. And with good reason: I'm pretty freaky looking at the moment, and all the drying, peeling calamine lotion just makes it worse.

That I disgust a 5-year-old boy is bad enough - who even knew that was possible? But the worst part is that I itch so badly I can't sleep. And my poor body, which just figured out for the first time in years that sleep is not only good but possible, screamed "WTF!" and made me go to the doctor, where I begged and I cried  - they even gave me a tissue - and now I have my own steroids that I hope will soon make the itching stop.

Please. Oh, pretty pretty please make the itching stop. I mean, I'm a silver-lining girl. I can see the wonderful in pretty much anything. But there is no silver lining in poison ivy. That stuff is noxious. It is evil in plant form. I can't think, I can't sleep, I can't focus on anything but the extreme and horrific need to scratch.

So I complained on Facebook. My cousin replied, telling me about how our Oma, the Queen of Gardening, once made the great poison ivy sacrifice and put herself between my cousin and the evil weed (I know, I know, that means something else ... but it should mean poison ivy). My cousin got away scott free, not a rash in sight. Not Oma. She was covered in itchy ick, and I'm sure at least as uncomfortable as I am right now.

But that's what you do, right? I hate this poison ivy. But if comforting my son while he's sick and sobbing means poison ivy ... well, then, it means poison ivy. Because there's no way I'm not holding him when he needs me. Poison ivy and all.

I'm really happy for the steroids, though.

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